If you ever wanted to make your life easier on After Effects or improve your workflow I would consider using the expression controls effects. Whether you need to access and quickly edit one or multiple property of a layer/effect, or setup your project so someone else can edit without digging in thousand of layers, the expression controls should be your friend.

In this post I will show how to use each expression controls effects provided in after effects, I will also provide a demo project files of each expression control so you can play with them.

Let’s start with the basic below, feel free to skip if you already know the subject.

What are Expression Controls in After Effects?

Expression controls allow you to manage a specific property of your layer, it basically act like a shortcut and allow you to edit quickly without digging in a thousands of layer properties.

Here is the list of expression controls you can find in the Effects and Presets panel in After Effects 2020.

Expression control are often use in After Effects template so the users don’t have to dig into thousands of layers to find what they need.

Important Info
Drag and drop the expression controls to your layer won’t work, you will need to connect or add an expression for the control to work properly, I will go over the steps to enable each expression control below.

Where can you find the Expression Controls in After Effects?

Click on the Effects tab on the top bar, click on Expression controls,

You can also find the expression control on the Effects and Presets panel, see screenshot

What can you do with Expression Controls in After Effects?

Here is a list of things you can do with the expression controls effects

  • Control the position of one or multiple 3D layers (Check 3D point Control on the tab below )
  • Control the angle/rotation one or multiple layers (Check the Angle Control Effect on the tabs below)
  • Turn On or Off a layer properties (Check the checkbox control on the tab below)
  • Control the color of a layer (Check Color Control on the tabs below)
  • Control a layer property (Opacity) or an effects with a slider (Check the slider control on the tabs below)
  • Switch Composition from drop down (Check the dropdown menu control on the tabs below)

The 3D point control effect allow you to control the 3 axis (x,y,z) of your 3D layer Position or Anchor Point.

  1. Drag and drop the 3D Point Control effect to your 3D layer
  2. First copy the position property of your 3D Layer and paste it to your 3D point Control
    CTRL+C | Windows
    Command+C | MAC
    copy-paste-properties
  3. On your layer position hold ALT click the stop watch, then link your 3D point control see below
  4. Done! Now you can control the position on your layer from the effect control window
  5. If you need the demo project of the 3D point control effect download it here.

The angle control effects allows you to control the rotation of a 2D layer or a Null Layer, to connect the angle control to your layer rotation follow the steps below.

angle control effects panel

  1. Drag and drop the angle control to your layer
  2. Drag pick whip from Rotation to the angle control
    pick whip to angle control
  3. Done! You can now control your rotation from the angle control effects
    angle control effect demoYou can download this angle control demo AE project here.

The Checkbox Control effect, allow you to turn on and off a specific property from a layer, for example the opacity of your layer.

Checkbox can be very useful if you are creating after effects template and want your project user to hide or show one or multiple layer.

You can find the Checkbox control on the Effects & Presets panel

Follow the steps below to use the checkbox control effect.

  1. Create 3 Stars shapes layer such as below